Customer Loyalty- Retain Your Valuable Customers

Loyal customers are the biggest asset any brand can have. Yes, one needs to grow their customer base, add new markets and target groups…but that one bunch of “we love you for what you are” customers will always be special for more than one reasons;

  1. They share an emotional connection with your brand
  2. They are more than happy satisfied customers, they are your brand evangelists
  3. They are willing to spend more on your brand

Customer loyalty programs highly interest me as a marketer who is trying to woo customers for our brand. I came across this amazing read which truly is an ultimate guide for professionals.

Customer Loyalty: The Ultimate Guide

What Is Customer Loyalty?

Customer loyalty reflects a customer’s willingness to buy from or work with a brand again and again, and it’s the result of a positive customer experience, customer satisfaction, and the value of the products or services the customer gets from the transaction.

 

 

 

#5 Things Your New Website Should have and #5 Things It Shouldn’t

This post should begin like a horror movie….

BASED ON TRUE EVENTS

That’s all the effort i’m going to make to jazz up the post intro because i have used most of my time on the title 😛

OK, cut to chase! lately I have been directly, indirectly, passively and aggressively involved in building content for some websites. So, I can safely say that this post is based on my experience and thorough study of what a good website should and should not contain in terms of CONTENT. Now to lay the foundation correct, in this post I’m talking only about the content components which includes written, pictorial and visual form of information on your website. A website though contains many other factors like being device adaptive, SEO friendly and responsive but I will refrain from including these factors in this post. So here we go…

Your Website SHOULD Have:

#1 YOUR STORY

Now why would you say things like “to know more about us check our website www…” It’s not just a catch phrase. If you want people to know about you on your website, please tell them! I strongly feel that sections like About US, Our Story, Vision, Mission don’t get much attention (content wise) and end up being a drab part of the website that only has innovative adjectives to describe the business, company and leadership. But if you think of it, this part of your website is like a whiteboard where you can tell your story to the world in the most engaging way possible!

So don’t just use words…use keywords (all relevant ones), include real images ( not models) that prove your story and walk them through your journey using videos.

#2 CLARITY & FRESHNESS 

At times there could be a lot of things that you might want to tell your visitors like how you are different, what special offering you have, latest promotions, the new mobile app you just launched and so on… Having all details inside your world wide web identity does make sense but a clear distribution of content is a must so that your consumer is not lost in the clutter. Always include a site map that charts out the website’s contents for clear and easy navigation for the user.

Using fresh content in a variety of formats like a mix of text, infographic, image transitions and videos can cut the redundancy and monotone of content heavy websites making it an easy experience for the visitors.

#3 CALL TO ACTION

Loading your website with data and no proper call to action will end up making it an online repository of information that people can at best refer to. If you want people to use your website and use it regularly then add one click actions that they can take to get what they want! start by providing different means to contact you like phone, email, instant chat, contact form, etc. Invite them to join you social media community to be up to date with your offerings. Be proactive and lead them to the next actions by giving reminders, directions, multiple options and support services.

This obvious component of a website is not always obvious for developers who are masters of the subject. If possible, know from a sample of your target audience if the call to actions are clear, simple to understand and not misleading before going live.

#4  VISITOR’S FEEDBACK

The process of developing and finalizing a website can be overwhelming and so its completion might seem like a good riddance at first. But no! do not consider your website as a state-of-the-art creation that does not have a scope for improvement. The best part of websites with friendly content management systems is that you can change the content, images, videos, articles as seem fit even after your website is live. So why not change it basis your visitors’ feedback?! It is highly advisable to take a quick feedback from your users before they exit the website to be sure of their experience. It is also an effective way of making an otherwise static website more interactive and engaging.

#5 ORIGINALITY

This definitely does not deserve the last position here but I want this point to remain out there for us to ponder. There is no substitute to original content on your website! because you can only add value with original, authentic and helpful content that your users can rely on and look forward to. If they welcome your content…then you have arrived. Even in this context, content takes into account not only what you write but what everything that else that supports your writing like visuals. Include pictures from your life, work, pass time depending on the theme and purpose of the website to connect with people.

Refrain from using stock images with models who reside on multiple websites representing different things. Such attempts hamper the trust of your users even if the rest of your content is original. Use of videos to make your content personal and provide a gateway for users to know you better and relate.

 

Your Website SHOULD NOT Have:

#1 DEAD LINKS

This is borderline offensive you know…alluring someone successfully to take interest in your content and promising them a lot more at a click of the mouse only to show them – THE PAGE DOES NOT EXIST – really? Make sure your links exist and lead somewhere helpful. Having dead links can be frustrating for your users and can leave them with a bad experience on your website.

#2 DISTRACTIONS

There is text loaded….there is cluttered information and then there are distractions on website. Imagine sliding banners, flash screens, pop up screens, auto chats, audio offers, auto-play  videos all happening at the same time on your website. It will surely scare your user and the instant reaction will be to close the tab and move on. It is OK to have a variety of content on your website but try to emphasize on one or two at most at one time.

#3 DATED INFORMATION

Always be sure that the information being shared on your website is correct and up to date including the contact details, address, team members and news updates. Correct information is the cornerstone of authentic content on your website which the users can not only believe in but also rely on. Not updating the correct contact number or office address will not only reduce the users trust factor but can also hamper the business significantly.

#4 NO CAPTION IMAGES

Highly recommend including captions to the images that go on your website. This does not just make it easy for the visitors to related the images to the text but also believe in those images as real and conveying a message. When using pictures to tell a story with timeline always add the year and date if possible to showcase the legacy of your business or company.

#5 REPEAT CONTENT

This happens all the time and I’ve figured out why! The latest website templates and designs are more like an assembly of placeholders for your content. It definitely makes it easier for us to chose the right slot for the right information but then the situation comes when you are out of content and the slots are empty. And we commit the crime of repeating the same content to fill the empty spaces and justify it as repeat “visibility”.

2 things though – repeat content is more likely to spoil user experience and you can get rid of the extra spaces! customized templates allow enough moderation to use only what you want and remove the rest.

Hope this article is helpful. Let me know your thoughts and happy to learn more about websites 😀

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Merchandising Basics for Beginners

The genesis of this post is a long-standing debate with my colleague on a topic that can be safely put as “Marketing Vs Merchandising”.  To begin with, I feel  that there cannot be a debate/discussion on Marketing “Vs” Merchandising because the latter is a very important subset of the former which also consists of several arenas including pricing, promotion and sales lead generation. If I were to present an analogy, consider marketing division as a human body and the different marketing functions as its organs that operate on their own to keep the human body up and alive! so you see now a debate on kidney Vs Human body is kinda ridiculous.

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who is the brain you ask?! well…most often it is the marketing head of the company 😀

But the best part of any discussion is the information exchange that happens (sometimes to win a pointless argument) and this time I got to learn about the merchandising basics that will help you close the gap between marketing, sales and operations that sadly work in silos in most organizations!

Merchandising is defined as the act of promoting the sale of goods, especially by their presentation in retail outlets. The keyword here is presentation. Not to sound shallow, but the presentation of products, goods, services, offers, sales reps, furniture and displays inside your store is a testimony for the standard of your store.

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So watch out for these merchandising basics to make your store look like picture 2:

#1 STORE LAYOUT 

Spending a lot of time with the store layout to figure out the most optimum store setup is highly recommended in the case of new outlets. 3D layout and dry runs should be done before you actually start setting up the store units. This step can make or break the entire shopping experience in your store for the customers. During the dry runs where you approach the store from the eyes of the customer…figure out the high visibility areas, congestion areas, navigation challenges, placement zones which would be best for the store.

store layout
example of store layout for a pharmacy

the grades A,B and C in the payout are a part of the “Visibility Grading”. A being the most visible areas followed by B and C. Again, this here is the final layout which was finalized after a lot of permutation & combination of the display unit arrangements.

#2 MERCHANDISING SEGMENTS

Merchandising segments are defined to maintain the uniformity or uniqueness of each product category and hence maintain the overall look and feel of the store. merchandising segments are also mean to make the in-store shopping experience of the customer a lot more convenient. Let’s continue with the pharmacy example…so there will be broad product categories like skin care, hair care, feminine care, eye care, OTC medicines, vitamin supplements, baby care , etc. For a merchandiser it is very important to different each of these product categories in a visible manner so that the customer knows exactly where to find what.

Also, each merchandised segment should be have a line of connectivity for the customers to move from one product category to another without even realizing it. so having wall units for skin care, hair care & feminine care in a continuous line will make more sense than skin care, baby care & vitamins.

#3 STORE DISPLAY 

It is what it means! make your store look good…for which all the efforts are being made. But here are some sub points that will simplify your understanding of the display in a store:

  • Counter display – Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) should be displayed at the counter. The area of the counter display is graded as a high end visibility area in the store and are meant for handy products that might slip out of a customer’s shopping list. e.g chewing gums, candies, hand sanitizers, wipes and so on.
  • Free Standing Display Unit (FSDU) – or a Floor Stand is an integral part of  store display.  Utilizing floor display in a correct manner not only increases the likelihood of impulse purchase but also the willingness of shoppers to switch between brands.
  • Window Display – It is important to keep window display area tidy at all times as this signifies your store reputation. Do not stock up products in front of the window display as it portrays a disorganized viewpoint of the store. But window display is crucial for promotion material to entice the customers.

#4 LEVEL PLACEMENT 

There are few important things to consider when placing products on the shelves, such as:

  • Placing your most profitable items at eye level
  • Placing products for children and pregnant women at eye level
  • Placing your popular or targeted products in between eye and knee level of visibility

#5 PLANOGRAMS 

Once you have decided which products are to be placed on which shelves basis the best visibility plan, it is important to consider how the products have to be arranged on the shelves too. A planogram is a visual diagram, or drawing, that provides details on the placement of every product in a retail store. These schematics not only present a flow chart for the particular merchandise departments within a store layout but also show which aisle and on what shelf an item is located.

while I have tried to superficially touch upon the basic merchandising practices, there is a lot more that goes into making a store look flawless and customer friendly. But these pointers will definitely lay a strong foundation in your learning about merchandising and will surely make your views count in “merchandising Vs. marketing” discussion 😛

 

 

 

 

 

Difference between Goal, Objective, Strategy & Tactic

The purpose of my blogs is to take inspiration from my everyday chores, events, scenarios and try to relate it to those marketing lessons which were once crucial to clear college tests with flying colors. That was back in the post-grad days when tests were taken (simple) and now I am put to test everyday in real business situations (not that simple). Marketing jargon, fancy presentations topped with promising case studies can be an impressive start for your marketing career but you have got to produce results. That is usually the unwanted question or exclamation mark while evaluating your marketing campaign.

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One of my favorite dialogues from House of Cards puts it just right…”One has to be smart to know what they don’t know.” So when going gets tough ask yourself what you have been pretending to know all this while because now is the time to actually know it!

This post is about the four pillars of every marketing campaign that are often misused, overused, underused or used for no reason at all. It’s the GOST…Goal, Objective, Strategy, Tactic.

  1. GOAL

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Or more precisely business goal. This is a very long term of view of what the business should become or should accomplish. Goals are meant to be ambitious and to some extent far fetched that can keep the work force motivated forever. for example, the goal of a cooking oil company would be to become the number 1 cooking oil of the world. Even if the brand ends up being the least used cooking oil in its geographical region, the goal will always be same.

2. OBJECTIVE

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When your boss asks the objective behind your strategy…make sure you have a number in mind. That’s right, objective is where you define the way to achieving the business goal using concrete and justified numbers. Taking the above example, when the cooking oil company comes to me with the goal…it expects me (the marketer) to figure out HOW?

So one of the objectives would be to double the sales in one year. If we are presently we are selling 100 bottles we have to increase the sales to 200 bottles. There can be multiple objectives in a campaign. Like in this case, the new cooking oil company might want to achieve considerable brand awareness as a part of this campaign.

3. STRATEGY

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This according to me is the most misused word of all! so now you know that growing your business is not a strategy and so is increasing product sales. Strategy is a critical bridge that connects you to the objectives and subsequently the goal. when i say bridge…picture one of those hanging bridge connecting two mountain cliffs and not the concrete modern day bridge just to maintain the thrill of this crucial step 😀

It is true that strategy can make or break your campaign that’s because it answers the very important WHY? Strategy should answer why you are doing what you are doing and if the answer is not aligned with your objective and goal…you know what’s wrong. For example, sampling would be a good marketing strategy for increasing the sales of cooking oil. And so would be reviews by influential cooks and food connoisseurs. Strategy constitutes multiple steps that individually and all together contribute to coming close to the goals.

4. TACTICS

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Tactics will take you to the white board and multicolored excel sheets. That’s because when you are working on your tactics you need every little detail to action the campaign. If the cooking oil company plans to use sampling as a strategy to let people try out their product for free, the tactics would include the plan of action to make this happen. For example, where to give free samples – malls, hypermarkets, mini marts ,etc. key locations to target, number of stalls and other minute details.

Hope you have got the GOST figured out now and with the basics in place the result will be… YOU ON TOP!!

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Top 10 Marketing Keywords

Website analytics has become my obsession lately. I can’t wait in the morning to switch on my laptop and see the colorful info-graphic representing the views and visits on my website. And believe me I can spend the whole day studying the figures because there is so much to learn from it. And more so, the analysis is a direct reflection of what the readers are looking for, which posts do they spend more time on and of course what are the topics relevant for them.

I can easily pick the posts and the keywords that have been driving maximum traffic on my website and this made me rethink the whole process. Like many other blogs, mine too started as a chronicle of my learning in the field of marketing. When I started, my posts were sporadic and my content wasn’t drawing much attention. As I read about effective content development and tried to include the tips in my writing, I could see the immediate impact. So, Hail Content!

But going back to the process, till now my posts used to be based on my most recent learning/experiences/readings. Going through the analytics I realized that readers keep going back to my older posts which talks about the topic they want to know more about. I quickly shifted my focus to KEYWORDS ANALYSIS because legit these are the words, phrases, terms and questions that people are searching online.

I know this is miles away from being a great discovery but I’m happy to have figured it out at last 😀 And the revised process is quite simple: Write what they want to read! Here is a list of Top 10 Marketing Keywords that btw is now my To-Do list 😛

Source: https://www.mondovo.com/keywords/marketing-keywords 

# Marketing Keywords Word Count  Global Monthly Search
1 integrated marketing communications 3   1,220,000
2 chief marketing officer 3      201,000
3 digital marketing 2      165,000
4 marketing mix 2      165,000
5 multi level marketing 3      135,000
6 marketing strategies 2      110,000
7 direct marketing association 3      110,000
8 network marketing 2      110,000
9 social media marketing 3        90,500
10 affiliate marketing 2        90,500

 

 

 

How to write a ‘Company Overview’

As a part of one of my on going projects with a leading construction company in Qatar, we are giving this 70+ year old brand a face lift. While this entire exercise will make a brilliant re-branding  case study some day, today I want to concentrate on one very crucial part of content marketing that I believe is more important that we think it is. I have to admit that it was that one intriguing question by the client that got me thinking…for good!

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Now, What is a ‘Company Overview’?

I am no batman so I googled this very question (we need a superhero with google-like powers). Surprisingly there was nothing much that would explain to me what a company overview is like I was a 5 year old (hellya! Denzel Washington). So I went for split and search and it kinda worked. So, an overview of a situation is a general understanding or description of the situation as a WHOLE.  Obviously the situation here is a company and the task is to write a page that would describe the company as a WHOLE. Again in caps because that is the keyword!

You wondering why?! remember the intriguing question that my client asked…it was, “should we call the prepared content Company Overview, Company Introduction or Company Brief?” 

The keyword helped me answer the question. A company overview is far more than an introduction or a brief. when you introduce yourself to someone it mostly is your name, where you come from, what company you work with and maybe a couple of more points if the other guy is really listening to you. There is much more information about you in store than what you give away in an introduction. I have had interviews where I was asked to “briefly” introduce myself! So a brief is strictly no dilly dally, cut to chase, say it in one breath scenario. I understand that my examples are conversation based and the case in point is about written content, but my objective is to differentiate between an overview, introduction and brief before we know to how to write one.

While writing a ‘Company Overview’…

  • List out the keywords that describe your business and its core values

Company overview is no longer confined to the pages of a business plan or a tedious report. It is one of the first things we read about when we enter a company website. With the growing acceptance and demand for SEO responsive websites, the content has to reflect the meticulous usage of keywords that will contribute in increasing the quality of your website. This is called “On-Page” SEO, a topic for my upcoming post.

Finding the right set of keywords for your business is a very crucial step and i encourage it to be a time taking one. The process includes interviewing the founders, present top management and conducting a competitor analysis and secondary research. Tools like Google Adwords Keywords Planner should be used to filter out the most relevant keywords.

Once you have listed out 10-15 keywords for your business, try and incorporate all or most of them in the company overview while maintaining the flow of information.

  • Figure out the key components that must be included 

Think of it as a 2 minute business presentation to a set of people who have never heard about your company till that very moment. What are the most important aspects of your company that they should know about?, Where can they locate you?, When did you start this company? and how are you the best in what you do? Writing a company overview is simply answering these questions in the most accurate way possible. In short, it should contain the What, Where, When and How of your company

  • Follow this basic structure

Company History  – provide the back story, including date of founding and who were the founders

Management Team – details about the top management and their key roles

Legal Structure and Ownership – how you’ve decided to structure your company

Locations and Facilities – Details on your work spaces and diversity

Mission Statement – A concise statement on the guiding principles of your company

So, get started on writing a company overview that will get you noticed.

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